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A-League

  • December 1, 2013
  • • 12:00
  • • Westpac Stadium, Wellington
  • Referee: L. Laverdue
  • • Attendance: 7147
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Wellington Phoenix 0-0 Western Sydney Wanderers: Merrick's men earn a point

Wellington Phoenix 0-0 Western Sydney Wanderers: Merrick's men earn a point

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The New Zealand franchise remain without a win this season, but they at least kept a clean sheet against the reigning premiers, who missed the influence of two key men

Wellington Phoenix are still searching for their first win of the season after battling to a goalless draw with Western Sydney Wanderers.

It was the Phoenix's first game at Westpac Stadium since the round one loss to Brisbane Roar 49 days ago.

But even the comforts of home could not bring them a goal, nor a much-needed win.

Westpac Stadium used to be a fortress for the Phoenix but they have not won there for seven games now.

There is no doubt they are playing a more attractive, possession-based brand of football under coach Ernie Merrick, but the finishing in front of goal remains a work in progress.

Carlos Hernandez had the best chance for the home side midway through the first half and will cringe when he sees a replay of the shot he shanked wide.

Substitute Paul Ifill also went close in the dying minutes – forcing a save, then hitting the woodwork.

The Wanderers didn't cover themselves in glory in the box either on Sunday with Michael Bridge blowing a chance of victory when he blasted over from close range with 13 minutes to go.

The Phoenix will probably be the most disappointed by the result as Louis Fenton and Stein Huysegems provided several quality deliveries into the box which deserved better finishing.

Hernandez has yet to score for the Phoenix and he will not get an easier chance than the one he blew in the 24th minute.

Great lead-up work by Huysegems saw the former Belgian striker cut inside his marker then split the defence with a pinpoint through ball but Hernandez completely miscued his shot and squirted it wide with the goal begging.

Kenny Cunningham, starting in place of the injured Jeremy Brockie (hamstring) had a couple of half-chances, including a deflected shot right on halftime which forced Ante Covic to make a smart save.

At the other end Labinot Haliti forced saves from Phoenix keeper Glen Moss at the near post twice in the first half but in general it was the home side that had the better chances as the visitors appeared to be missing the creativity of Shinji Ono (out with a groin injury) in midfield.

It was the yellow card that saw the most action in the opening 45 minutes with Phoenix trio Hernandez, hard-working Albert Riera and Cunningham and Wanderers midfielder Aaron Mooy booked by referee Lucien Laverdure.

Chance were few and far between early in the second half and Ernie Merrick and Tony Popovic turned to their benches looking for the breakthrough.

Paul Ifill replaced Jason Hicks then Michael Boxall came on for the tiring Hernandez and Tyler Boyd replaced Riera for the Phoenix, while Youssouf Hersi, who is on the comeback from a foot injury, replaced Tahj Minniecon.

Hersi was quickly in the action forcing Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante to put his body on the line as the Dutchman then Mooy rattled of shots in quick succession.

Hersi then fired in a superb cross from the right to Michael Bridge only for the striker to blast it well over.

It was the Phoenix who finished strongly though with Ifill forcing a smart one-handed save from Covic and then glancing the post right at the death.

The second half also saw further yellow cards to Michael Boxall, Manny Muscat, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Shannon Cole.
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